Title: House of Rougeaux
Author: Jenny Jaeckel
Genre: Historical Fiction
House of Rougeaux is a family saga spanning seven generations—from a colonial-era sugar plantation to Civil Rights-era Philadelphia—an intimate portrayal of survival and triumph, love and resilience, with touches of magical realism.
Born in the 1700s and enslaved on the Caribbean Island of Martinique, young Abeje and her brother Adunbi owe their survival to their uncommon abilities and to the kindness of fellow bondsmen. After Adunbi’s daughter is taken away to Canada she becomes emancipated in Quebec City; grandchildren find their way in Montreal, a great-grandchild escapes persecution to Philadelphia, and another risks everything to pursue music in New York City. As each new member of the family takes the spotlight, a fresh piece of the puzzle is illuminated until at last, a homecoming uplifts them all. Following the echoes between generations which defy normal space and time, a multilayered narrative celebrates the Rougeaux family triumphs while exposing the injustices of their trials.
This is a critically important book in this time we live in. Here, the author presents the life of an African American family from their humble beginnings and on. The realistic portrayal of slavery in Martinique in the 18th and 19th centuries resonates. There is much more realism in the harsh and often unfair conditions the family must face in America in the 20th century.
This is a family saga for the readers who love family sagas. You don't have a hero or heroine per se, you just have a family trying to live their lives. Each of the myriad characters is well presented. The author has a gift for detailed description that fills out the book.
For some readers, a non-linear approach is fine. This rarely, if ever, works for me. The moving back and forth in time from character to character was extremely confusing. Had this book simply been laid out in a chronological fashion, it would be brilliant. Still, this is an important book that is a must read for people in 2021.
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy it Now:
House of Rougeaux (paperback)
House of Rougeaux e-book
Jenny Jaeckel is the award-winning author and illustrator of several books including her novel Boy, Falling--a companion book to House of Rougeaux, a collection of illustrated short fiction entitled For the Love of Meat, and the graphic novel memoir Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU. When not writing, Jaeckel works as an editor and translator. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, with her family.
Social Media Links:
Reviewed by: Mr. N